Are you interested in getting into baseball card trading? Or maybe you have a collection of cards from your childhood you just discovered in the attic and are thinking of selling? Whether buying or selling, you will want to know the value of the cards. In this article, we will share with you some baseball card appraisers to get you started.
But before we get to the list of baseball card appraisers, we’ll take a brief look at the history of baseball cards. We also discuss the types of baseball cards there are. As a seller or a trader of baseball cards, it will be useful to understand how baseball cards have evolved and the range of cards available.
History of Baseball Cards
The very first baseball cards came into circulation in the 1860s when they doubled as advertisements for businesses. In the early 1900s, the cards often came within cigarette packets. In the 1930s, several companies got into producing baseball cards and the era of mainstream production began in earnest after the Second World War.
As collecting baseball cards grew in popularity, two price guides were published in 1984 by Beckett and Tuff Stuff. They were the key reference points for people wanting to value their cards until the internet took over as the main channel for trading baseball cards.
In the 1990s, companies began releasing autographed cards and in 1996, Leaf produced their Signature Series that launched a new craze. The following year, Upper Deck included swatches of game-used jerseys in a three-card set. Another baseball card producer, Fleer, brought its Masterpieces on the market. These three types are still popular among collectors.
However, things took a different turn as the new millennium dawned. There were too many companies printing cards. The market was flooded with cards and companies began to go under. Many others have since lost their licenses and by 2026, only Fanatics will have a full license to produce baseball cards.
What are the different types of baseball cards?
These are the most basic cards that form regular sets. These cards feature the best players from the season before. Many sets include hundreds of base cards. However, some sets only include the top stars and consist of fewer than 100 cards.
These are sets within the regular sets and usually comprise 10-40 cards within a base set. You can recognize these cards because they have a different design than the base cards. These cards are typically half the value of a player’s base card.
Rookie cards are base cards from the first year when a player is included in a major set. There is a lot of demand for these cards, so they are more valuable than base cards or subset cards. In 2006, Major League Baseball created a logo for rookie cards with the aim that only players making their Major League debut rather than minor league debut would get rookie cards.
These are basically special edition cards that are included in packs. These are rarer than regular series cards and therefore have additional value. Some insert cards come one per pack, whereas others are found only once per case or even less frequently. They often have serial numbers in foil or a different design from the base cards.
These cards use the same photos and designs as base cards. However, they differ slightly from base cards. They might have, for example, rainbow effects on the surface, colored borders or foil.
These are cards that have a certified autograph from the player featured on the card. They are signed by hand or there may be a sticker bearing the autograph. They used to be rare but are now found at least once per box.
Introduced in 1997, these cards became an instant hit. They feature anything from jerseys to bats; shoes to gloves. Unfortunately, there are many fakes on the market, especially from the early 2000s, so you need to get these cards carefully examined.
The best way to have your card examined is to find a reputable baseball card appraiser. They will value your card accurately and confirm its authenticity.
Who are the best baseball card appraisers?
When you are looking to get your baseball cards appraised, you first need to decide if you want a free, paid, or premium appraisal. Free appraisals are offered by many large dealers both online and in person. The dealer will often offer to buy the card.
They will offer you a fair price. However, it will be below the card’s actual value because they will want to make a profit when reselling.
Alternatively, you can pay for the appraisal. You will need to pay upfront for the service. These are more often physical rather than online appraisals. The final option is a premium appraisal, which costs more but will involve industry experts and often comes with some form of guarantee of authentication.
Below are the baseball card appraisal services we recommend, in alphabetical order.
You can start the process online and they provide several tools which help you catalog your collection of vintage sports cards. On the website, you can also find interesting articles on spotting fakes from real cards, vintage card investing, and the most valuable cards.
Established for over twenty years, this dealer has bought millions of cards from collectors. They will also travel to come to you to see your collection. On their website, you will also find a great guide on grading your baseball cards.
3. Dean’s Cards
One of the biggest buyers and sellers in the USA. Their appraisals are free and you can begin by filling in a simple appraisal form. If you are looking for great customer service, then Dean’s is your place. They get 4.9 out of five on Google customer reviews.
One of the most respected auction houses in the USA. Unlike some of the other appraisers who focus on sports cards, Heritage Auctions deal with a range of items. There is a free appraisal service, but they only appraise items they wish to include in future auctions.
5. Just Collect
Another appraiser offers a free appraisal process. However, they are most interested in vintage baseball cards produced before the 1980s. They are the top buyer of vintage cards in the USA and have over 60 years of experience.
They offer a simple online appraisal and usually you will receive your free appraisal within a week. A well-established company that has been in the business since 1985.
They offer an appraisal service that is one of the standard-bearers among valuators. This is a paid service and they will only appraise cards they have authenticated, so you will have to pay for that service, too. However, you will receive a fully researched appraisal complete with a report of their findings.
Where to buy and sell baseball cards?
There are many ways to buy and sell individual cards and baseball card collections. You can use online dealers to buy and sell. Remember to check very carefully that you are dealing with an authentic person when trading online. Another alternative is to buy and sell in-person at stores and shows.
Many retail stores sell a wide selection of baseball cards and some companies offer exclusive card sets to retailers to drive sales. You can also buy cards from local sports card shops. However, these stores that focus on sports cards are not as common as they used to be. Neither are card shows.
So if in-person opportunities are becoming less common, where are the best online places to buy and sell baseball cards? EBay is always a good place to start. You can also buy cards on Amazon, card dealers’ websites and the Facebook marketplace. Blowout Cards is worth checking out for buying unopened packs and boxes.
While on Facebook, consider joining a group called Sportscard Scammers Exposed. They have a list of scammers selling fake cards.
Now you know about the history of baseball cards, the types of cards there are, where to buy and sell and most importantly where to get your cards appraised, it is time to get trading. Before you contact a professional sports authenticator, you might want to watch this helpful video about finding the value of sports cards.
The video will help you estimate the value of your cards or a set before contacting an appraiser – it is always useful to know what to expect. And for a bit of inspiration, here is a short video from Antiques Roadshow where the value of the collection leaves the guest gobsmacked!
If there is anything else you would like to know about baseball card appraisers or about buying or selling your sports card collection, leave your question in the comments.